I am leaving Soccer Laduma, and the mere thought of it evokes so much emotion, accompanied by the attendant memories of my past three years working for this august publication, and that I am accorded this space to share it with you, dear reader, is something I treasure greatly.
As I sit here, typing away, perhaps it’s only befitting that I start by thanking the esteemed Vuyani Joni, Mr Editor himself, for affording me this opportunity. When he approached me, asking that I write in his place this week, so that I do not seem like one who has pulled a disappearing act once readers catch on that my by-line is missing, I was poleaxed. I immediately took a stroll around the corridor, asking myself, “Did VeeJay just say what I think he said?” Not that I was overwhelmed, far from it, because I have longed to share my thoughts with you, passionate as I am about the game of football, and I said to myself I will grab this chance even as it comes on my way out.
Oh, three years fly by so fast, especially when you’re having fun! I remember my first day here like it was yesterday. My move to Cape Town was kind of funny, though… well, at the time it wasn’t because my stress levels were higher than those of a Bafana Bafana supporter. There I was, just past my 19th birthday, sitting at Rosebank College in Braamfontein, having just applied to study for a Bachelors Degree in Business Management, wandering around the busy streets, not knowing whether I was coming or going. It was quite different, very different, considering that I was just a teenager from the farmlands of eShowe in KwaZulu-Natal, where you could count the number of residents using only your two hands. Okay, I’m kidding, it’s not that small a vicinity, but it isn’t that big either. Catch my drift? So, as I began to find my way around and attend lectures that almost always had me wishing I had brought my bed along – such was the boredom – I told a new friend, “Chomie, this here ain’t for me. Tomorrow I’m going to ask that I change my course.” Dear pal stared at me and, after a brief pause, could only mutter: “Crazy”. Yeah, right.
One thing about yours truly, bangani bami (my friends), is that when I say I’m going to do something, you best believe that I am going ahead with it. So, I woke up at first light the following day. I marched right past the Business Management class, smiled and waved at my friend, new papers in hand. I was now a Journalism student. Yeah, who’s crazy now? I was happy because I had something to look forward to. I was doing what I wanted and not following the path that everyone else around me expected me to follow. Hours turned into days, the excitement and contentment were palpable. I enjoyed every lecture about the world of Journalism. I would daydream, of course. I would see myself writing for one of the biggest publications, being on television, you know – the whole shebang. And here I am.
It so happened that, whilst sitting at my cousin’s crib, where I was residing whilst studying, I came across an email address: email@example.com. Hmm, interesting, I thought. Me being me, I decided to test the waters and drop this dude an email. After a few test articles, he asked me if I would be interested in taking up an intern position. If you think that I was going to turn down a move to Soccer Laduma, the biggest publication in Africa, then I’m afraid you don’t know me that well my friend! Wait… there was a hurdle to overcome. The company’s headquarters were in Cape Town. Panic kicked in! I had this massive opportunity in the palm of my hands, but I had my studies to complete and where was I going to stay? Aside from seeing pictures of Table Mountain on TV and in magazines, I didn’t know the Mother City, having never been there before. Luckily, there was a family from my dad’s side that I could stay with until I could find my own place. It’s now history that on 19 April 2016, I flew from OR Tambo International Airport and reached my new destination at 23h00! The very next day, I had to make my first appearance at the company.
I stood outside of a building that had a big Soccer Laduma logo. I walked up the stairs, only to find an empty office. I do wear prescribed spectacles and I didn’t have them on that day, so maybe I just couldn’t see properly. So, I turned to the gentleman seated nearby and asked him if he had any idea of the whereabouts of the people who were supposed to be in that office. His response: “They have moved to a new building.” Sweat dripped from my forehead. I was lost! I called Gareth Johnson, the then sub-editor, and he told me he had forgotten to send me the new address. Ah, great one, G-man! I was then picked up by G and VeeJay. The latter introduced himself. Duh! “Of course, I’ve been reading your stuff for years now, I know exactly who you are!”
That’s the genesis of my journey. From writing in Fan Park, to heading up Supporters Club together with my wingman, Beaver Nazo, to us both getting the opportunity to be regular writers in the weekly publication, it has been a fruitful experience, one that will forever live in my heart. As for our loyal readers, my love for you all will live on. It’s time for me to see what the world has to offer.
See you all on the flip side,